Would it be appropriate to apply for a co-op/internship after I had previously worked at a company as a regular, full-time employee?

After high school, I worked as a software developer without going to university.

During my mid 20s, I became increasingly drawn towards Computer Science theory. I'm currently 27 and in my first year of university with the intent of earning a PhD to become a professor.

My university program requires computer science students to obtain multiple co-ops as a prerequisite to earning the BS in computer science, and actively courts relationships with many companies. But one of them I have previously worked at for 18 months as a regular, full-time employee, 2-3 years ago.

Could I apply for a co-op at said company, or would that be inappropriate/awkward? It's one of the more prestigious companies that partners with my university, and I feel I'm hamstringing myself if I specifically don't apply for a co-op there, but it does not necessarily have to be in the same department/area I worked in.

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    could you not use your previous employment in lieu of one or more of the internships – Neuromancer Aug 30 '17 at 16:56

Could I apply for a co-op at said company, or would that be inappropriate/awkward? It's one of the more prestigious companies that partners with my university, and I feel I'm hamstringing myself if I specifically don't apply for a co-op there.

If this company normally hires co-op students who wouldn't be candidates to actually work there, then it makes complete sense for you to apply.

Presumably you left on good terms. Most likely they would be happy to have you back.

Some companies bring in co-ops as a way to source good talent. If that is the case at this company, they may prefer someone else. But you'll only know by applying - what have you got to lose?

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In a few companies that I've previously worked at, this wouldn't be allowed.

The reason is that if you were a full-time employee (FTE) when you left, if/when you return, you would retain the same employee rank/grade as when you left.

To clarify that, if you were an FTE of type assistant vice president when you left, when you come back you would still be considered an assistant vice president. You could apply for a position of vice president and come back with a higher grade but you couldn't move down into lower grade such as officer.

I don't know why this is, it might have something to do with the particular HR system. Also, it may just apply to the industry I worked in (finance). I've worked for several very large companies so smaller companies might not function the same way.

The best thing to do would be to contact someone at the HR department and simply ask them if you could return as an intern. If they liked you and wanted you back, they can do whatever they want to make it happen. You might also want to apply for co-ops at different companies, too. You'd get a different perspective and probably pick-up some different skills that could work to your advantage (not to mention you would also meet many different people, thereby increasing your future job network).

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    not sure what your saying of course they could come back at a lesser grade - time based benefits might be an issue but an intern is not a FTE – Neuromancer Aug 30 '17 at 11:49
  • @Neuromancer What I'm saying is that my experiences have been that once you leave some companies, you can't return at a lesser grade. You state "of course they could come back at a lesser grade". Again, that hasn't been my experience and I was pointing that out to the OP. Where I worked, interns were considered FTEs because they received regular benefits. If your experience is different, please add them as an answer so all of us could learn from them. – fsb Aug 30 '17 at 12:40
  • In the US, financial/banking industry. Interns received all the same benefits as FTEs, they received regular reviews at the same time as the FTEs and they were eligible for promotion and raises on a set schedule. As I mentioned, this was my experience at 3 different companies, all within the same industry. – fsb Aug 30 '17 at 12:56
  • @fsb then they probably where not "interns" who normally have a separate legal status as in the USA. intern is not a synonym for employee or worker – Neuromancer Aug 30 '17 at 16:54
  • @Neuromancer Yes, they were interns. An intern can be considered an employee as long as they follow specific Dept of Labor guidelines (as well as 'tests' derived from various federal court cases on the subject). These are not unpaid interns, they're paid, get vacation time, get overtime, etc. I'm afraid this 'intern vs FTE' discussion has derailed the OPs original question so we should probably not continue the discussion here. – fsb Aug 30 '17 at 17:33

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